- Commercial real estate marketing can set your real estate business apart from the competition.
- Investors should create a strong brand to ensure all marketing materials accurately represent the company.
- An effective commercial real estate marketing plan will have both online and offline components.
If you want to break into the world of commercial real estate, at some point you’re going to need a commercial real estate marketing plan. A strong marketing plan will help with everything from acquiring new leads to securing profitable deals. Though, perhaps most importantly, a commercial marketing plan will contribute to the notoriety and longevity of your real estate business.
But what systems and assets do you need in place to ensure your efforts in marketing for commercial real estate pay off? What commercial real estate advertising methods should you focus on? And, what do you need to do to ensure your branding and marketing materials are as professional as they can be?
Here are four key steps to developing a thorough and effective commercial real estate marketing plan that will help you in this lucrative, though sometimes overwhelming investing strategy.
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How To Market Commercial Real Estate In 4 Steps
A well curated commercial marketing plan will accomplish a few essential tasks. First, it will introduce your business to potential clients, whether they be lenders, property owners, or even tenants. A marketing plan will also highlight your expertise by illustrating successful deals from your portfolio. Finally, a commercial real estate marketing plan will attract new leads to your business, in some cases with little or no effort on your part. Overall, the importance of a thorough commercial real estate marketing plan cannot be overstated. Follow the steps below to get started on yours today:
- Find Your Competitive Edge: Decide what type of commercial properties you are going to focus on. Then, research your competition and pin point what makes you unique.
- Bulletproof Your Branding: Establish the brand of your real estate business so you have something to refer back to as you strategize new ways to generate leads.
- Develop An Online Marketing Strategy: Go digital by creating a website and building social media accounts for your business.
- Develop An Offline Marketing Strategy: Utilize key strategies from traditional real estate marketing campaigns to bring in new leads.
Find Your Competitive Edge
The biggest mistake investors make when creating a commercial marketing plan is to believe they can be all things to all people; that they are perfect for any opportunity, or that they can specialize in any area of commercial real estate investing. As the old expression says, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” If you try to market to everything (and everyone) you are unlikely to attract consistent commercial real estate leads.
That’s why the first step to any commercial real estate marketing plan is to pin point the purpose of your business. This means answering questions such as:
- What area of commercial real estate is your focus? Malls, offices, industrial? Pick a property type to focus on initially, and then branch out from there. This will help you cater your marketing materials to that segment and prevent you from wasting valuable resources on unattainable deals. If you are unsure where to start, read this article to learn more about different types of commercial real estate.
- Who is your target lead? Will you be raising financing first, or are you ready to search for properties? Are you focusing on new construction or existing developments? You need to know who your audience is to know how to market to them. It’s okay to need materials for different groups (i.e. lenders, sellers, tenants) as long as you are clear about who they are.
- What makes you unique? A unique selling proposition (USP) is a concept in marketing that essentially means identifying what you can bring to the table that no one else can. In the case of commercial real estate, this may require sizing up the competition. Research other commercial investors and look for what makes you different. This is what you will highlight as you build your brand.
Refining your focus is a key step when creating a commercial real estate marketing plan (or any marketing plan for that matter). It will require you to ask exactly why you went into this business and what you hope to get out of it. But, by answering these questions now you can ensure you don’t waste time when it’s time to start creating your brand.
Bulletproof Your Branding
Branding refers to building an image for your business, one that reflects your mission and values while also enticing potential clients to choose you above the competition. Your brand will play a vital role in your overall commercial real estate business. The reason for this is simply because the stakes are higher. Commercial real estate is bigger in terms of property size, project cost, and, thankfully, profits. If you want to successfully break into the industry you need to think bigger than a professional portfolio.
In practical terms, this means developing a brand for your company. The following items are helpful when creating a competitive commercial real estate brand:
- A Simple, Powerful Message: Once you’ve brainstormed your USP, put it in the form of a slogan or saying that tells people exactly what you can do for them and why you’re the perfect person to do it.
- Professional Photos And Logos: Forget the cell phone pictures and $5 logos. Invest in high-quality imagery that evokes the look and feel you’re going for. It will pay off as you create tangible marketing materials later on.
- Business Cards: While they are not as popular as they once were, business cards still have a place in the marketing world. Create a business card using your new company logo so you are prepared to form new connections anywhere you go.
- A Clean Website: It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just needs to clearly communicate what you are trying to do. Your website should look clean, modern and impressive to customers. And, it should be organized with one focus in mind: generating leads.
- An Authentic Story: Why did you start your real estate business? Believe it or not the story of how you started is a great element to draw on when branding your company. Think about how you got to where you are today and have that information ready for anyone that asks. As an added bonus, you can even consider including it on your website or in your pitch.
- Community Partnerships: As a business owner, one of the best things you can do is give back to your local area. And, this can actually go hand in hand with your branding efforts. Identify a partner within the community that fits with your goals and look for ways you can help out. This will go a long way in creating a positive reputation for your real estate business.
- A Strong Network: A reliable network is crucial to the success of any real estate investor. However, it is also a crucial component of real estate branding. As you strategize your commercial marketing plan, write out a pitch for potential network connections. This will help ensure you stay on brand when talking at networking events, conferences and more.
As you walk through each of the above items, know that the number one component to good branding is consistency. Each of your marketing items should relate back to your message, values, and goals for the business. No one wants to interact with two different marketing channels and not be able to tell they came from the same business. Remember this as you build your brand, and you will be ready to launch comprehensive marketing campaigns both on and offline.
Develop An Online Marketing Strategy
In today’s day and age, almost every business out there is online (even within the real estate industry). This has created a lot of digital noise, which can be difficult to sift through as an investor. However, with the right online commercial marketing strategy you can stand out from any online competitors in no time. Here are a couple of must-haves for your commercial real estate marketing plan:
- Website/Landing Pages: The first thing leads will do after meeting you is check your website to see what you’re about. Make sure your online presence provides updated information about your business and plenty of chances to join your funnel. Consider creating landing pages for your portfolio, business background, and investment opportunities. Check out this website by Equity Street Capital for an example.
- Property Websites: Aside from your business website, it is also a good idea to make individual websites that showcase each of your commercial properties. This will go a long way in attracting (and retaining) tenants. Be sure to link from your portfolio to provide users with a chance to learn more about each property.
- Blogging & SEO: Creating a blog is one of the most effective ways to bring new clients to your business website, and potentially into your marketing funnel. Plan out a content strategy to post a few pieces of content a month, and then look for ways to refine them. Learn a few search engine optimization (SEO) basics, and generate steady traffic to your website.
- Virtual Reality: Virtual reality is among the latest tech developments taking the real estate industry by storm. Learn how to use it effectively, and you may just find yourself ahead of the curve. This means creating 3D property tours of your portfolio, and providing potential leads easy access to this data. A few platforms that currently work on this are Matterport, Atlas Bay, and Trillenium.
- Social Media: Having a presence across Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can go a long way in boosting your credibility. Create a few simple posts for each, and get a feel for what performs best on each platform. Social media is one of the best ways to attract new real estate leads, and best of all it is free to use.
- Advertising: Though there are many online commercial real estate advertising types to choose from—banner ads, Google AdWords, newsletters—two platforms in particular (LinkedIn and Facebook) can offer you unrivaled targeting. After creating a solid presence on these social media platforms look for ways you can launch more targeted advertising.
- Video Email Campaigns: A weekly or monthly email newsletter can help you build your network and in turn identify more leads for your business. Try creating audio and/or visual content to put a unique twist on traditional email marketing.
There are clearly a lot of moving parts to an online commercial real estate marketing plan. If you plan effectively there is no reason you will not be able to launch the above items successfully. It may take some time, but online marketing is one of the single most important elements to any real estate business.
Develop An Offline Marketing Strategy
Contrary to popular belief, and more than a few so-called marketing experts, traditional offline methods of marketing still work (and can often deliver just as many leads as emerging online marketing methods). The key is to be disciplined in your creation of offline marketing methods, and to constantly monitor the performance of your marketing.
That said, an offline marketing plan for your commercial real estate ventures should include:
- Print Materials: This includes materials like brochures and flyers, as well as display signage. Creating eye-catching assets in this area can help emphasize your brand and get you noticed in a crowded market. Think about the best ways to use your logo and pictures, and play around using platforms like Canva until you decide what looks best.
- Bandit Signs: While you strategize effective print materials, think about making bandit signs as well. These should simply state your message and contact information, though it wouldn’t hurt to be on brand. Find an affordable printer in your area, and spread the word about your investing business with bandit signs. Just remember not to put them anywhere illegal.
- Driving For Dollars: You may have used this strategy in residential real estate, but the same logic still applies to commercial. Set up a time to drive around looking for potential properties for sale or rent in your area, and write down any contact information you see. This can be especially helpful for investors who live in their target real estate market.
- Real Estate Agents: While networking is great for your overall brand, targeting real estate agents will be a key component to any offline commercial real estate marketing. Look for agents in your area that specialize in commercial real estate, and set up a time to talk. More often than not, these will be some of the most valuable connections you can form.
- Direct Mail: That’s right, direct mail can be just as effective in reaching commercial leads as with residential leads. And with the right targeting and creative it can be the most profitable piece of commercial real estate marketing you create. Consider the benefits of yellow letters, postcards and even handwritten notes before you decide to launch. For more ideas on direct mail marketing, check out this article.
- Thank You Notes: No commercial real estate marketing plan is complete without a way to stay in touch with past clients or leads. Try printed thank you cards or handwritten notes, as both can be a great way to follow up. After you find what works best, create a system so you are always reminded when it’s time to reach out.
While you add these campaigns to your commercial marketing plan, be sure to also create a reliable tracking system. Offline marketing strategies rely on continuous improvement in order to remain effective. Create spreadsheets, track mailers, and attribute each of your leads to the source they came from. Refining your offline marketing techniques will help you minimize costs and maximize lead generation.
Making the leap from residential investing to commercial investing can be one of the scariest things a real estate investor can do. The properties are bigger, the transactions are larger, and the potential risk can increase.
But it’s important to remember the principles that work with residential investing also work with commercial real estate. And by creating an organized commercial real estate marketing plan, you’ll have a map for acquiring commercial leads.
Do you have any unique commercial real estate advertising ideas? Share your success stories in the comments below.